"Cat`s" by Kurt Vonnegut as reflection of a problem related to human cognition

Analysys of the novel "Cradle for a cat" by Kurt Vonnegut, which turned out to be a reflection of the problem of failure to convey past experiences. Reflection of a problem related to human cognition. The topic of atomic bombing on September 6, 1945.

25.01.2022
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SHEI Pereiaslav- Khmelnytskyi Hryhorii Skovoroda State Pedagogical University

CAT'S CRADLE BY KURT VONNEGUT AS REFLECTION OF A PROBLEM RELATED TO HUMAN COGNITION

Mariia Panhelova Ph. D in Philology,

Associate Professor of Ukrainian and

Foreign Literature and Teaching

Methods Department

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Annotation

vonnegut novel human cognition

The article attempts to analyze the novel Cradle for a cat by Kurt Vonnegut, which turned out to be a reflection of the problem of failure to convey past experiences, that is, the author of the work doubted the rational understanding of events, posing a cross on the progressive historical development of society. As in the late Kurt Vonnegut s novel Slaughterhouse Number Five, or the Crusade of Children the author describes how the narrator is going to write a book about an important event that changed his life, but in the end he does not. In the Cradle for a Cat John cannot create a story about the day the world ended, that is, the inhuman atomic bombing of the civilian population of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Cat s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut as reflection of a problem related to human cognition. The author doubts whether the rational way of perception is the right one. Vonnegut as a writer shows how superficial our belief in progressive forces is.

The author of the novel Cat's Cradle invents religion, language, island, time without a certain temporal correlate, substance ice-nine, to reveal the topic of atomic bombing on September 6, 1945, as the beginning of the end of the world. The final chapters of the work are devoted precisely to this: they describe the terrible, but at the same time, fascinating picture of a frozen, indifferent Earth. It turns out that man has enough of this meager sunshine to survive and again to think about the subordination of nature to himself, his plan, not even the project of the universe. The people who survived after the catastrophe covered by ice - nine lands - do not change, and this is paradoxical in Vonnegut's work: the heroes of the frozen animal carcasses are enough to survive.

Key words: Kurt Vonnegut, novel, war, lost generation.

Formulation of the problem

The relevance of the study is determined by the need for a complete analysis of the specifics of existential problems in Kurt Vonnegut's novels and its dominant motifs (loneliness, alienation) that are genetically inherent to American culture in general and, in particular, the literature of the 20th century, which has been repeatedly emphasized by leading researchers of American literature: T. Denysova, M. Mendelssohn, S. Finkelshine, and existential thinkers, for example, J.-P. Sartre and others.

The reader of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Cat's Cradle often agrees with one of the heroes of the work, Newton Honikker, because throughout the narration there are not goddamn cats, nor damn cradle with a high frequency of use of these words and images. The task of the article is to show the author's title interpretation of the novel. After all, initially the idea was completely different.

Analysis of recent research and publications

The methodological basis of the article were the study of a well-known Ukrainian scientist, a specialist in the field of modern Anglo-American criticism prof. A. S. Kozlov, the American scholar of the creativity of Kurt Vonnegut J. Klinkovits, editor-in-chief and compiler of such well-known editions as the Declaration on Vonnegut (1975), Kurt Vonnegut in America (1981), as well as the monograph Modern Literary Studies in the USA: Theoretical directions and confrontations of the 1920-1980 years (1990) L. M. Zemlianova.

Solving unresolved parts of the problem

Starting from the 60s - the time of the emergence of serious literary and critical works in the field of academic studies - at each subsequent stage, significant adjustments were made. But, as a rule, the work of Vonnegut-essayist and interpreter of his own work remains out of the attention of the researchers. However, the entire depth of the artistic experiment of Kurt Vonnegut can be mull over on the understanding of the philosophical foundations of his work.

Still not studied remains the problems of studying the artistic thinking of the writer at the level of philosophical categories, the ways of the formation and operation of philosophical ideas in the Vonnegut's novel world.

The purpose of the article & setting objectives

The purpose is to define the philosophical orientations of Kurt Vonnegut and the means of artistic realization of the writer's philosophical views in his writings.

Presenting main material

As in Vonnegut's late novel Slaughterhouse Number Five, or the Crusade of Children, the author describes how the narrator is going to write a book about an important event that has changed his life, but in the end he does not. In Cat's Cradle, John fails to create a story about the day when the end of the world, that is, the inhuman atomic bombing of civilians in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The same numbness happens to the narrator in Slaughterhouse Number Five, or the Crusade of Children: he begins to write a book about Dresden, constantly ponders how it happened and most importantly why, but deviates from the description of terrible event, leads only evaluation and discussion. Makes these works of constant repetition so it goes, or cases, affairs..., because the narrator is unable to convey his experience as he was, he cannot verbally convey everything that happened in those terrible times.

He puts an end to the rational way to convey all that has been experienced, and therein lies the big problem of escaping events, their becoming something that the event wanted. Not it happened, but if the chance wants it in Battle number five. Not it happened, but, as the bokonists say it should have happened in Cat's Cradle.

Creating a small novel - about 300 pages - to express quite a lot of problems, mixing times, eras, people, ideologies, technologies, literal and figurative meanings, is an ambitious task, and the American writer seems to have managed to cope with it. For his small works, he often chose large topics to show the impossibility of repeating the experience we experienced, a failure in broadcasting everything that once happened. But the problem of the mind lies not so much in its impotence, as in its imaginary and formidable power. Imaginary, because nature only laughs at such pitiful attempts to transcend everything, and formidable, because the human mind made the earth shudder when the energy of the atom was used for military purposes, in order to destroy.

Why did Felix Honikker use the power of his intellect to create a terrible weapon capable of destroying not only his creator, but all living things? For Vonnegut, the answer to this question turns out to be fundamental, so he cites an episode with a turtle, introducing absurdity into what and what a person does in his life. The writer tells us how one day Dr. Hoenikker became seriously interested in the wildlife object, the tortoise, and began to spend more time with it than with the projects of a new high-power chemical.

It was before the creation, the final creation of the atomic bomb, so the case can be considered important for Honecker as a person: he became interested in the object of living nature; he pulled away from the inanimate monster, which created his mind. And yet the monster of reason won, but Vonnegut manages to joke on this topic: he tells his readers that the doctor turned his attention to work due to the absence of a turtle in the laboratory, which he simply took so that the scientist would not be distracted. Now the only thing left for Felix Honicker is to create what the monstrous intelligence says to him. Every movement of his thoughts, every scientific research or experiment was somehow connected with a bomb.

The author of the novel Cat's Cradle invents religion, language, island, time without a certain temporal correlate, substance ice-nine, to reveal the topic of atomic bombing on September 6, 1945, as the beginning of the end of the world. The final chapters of the work are devoted precisely to this: they describe the terrible, but at the same time, fascinating picture of a frozen, indifferent Earth. It turns out that man has enough of this meager sunshine to survive and again to think about the subordination of nature to himself, his plan, not even the project of the universe. The people who survived after the catastrophe covered by ice - nine lands - do not change, and this is paradoxical in Vonnegut's work: the heroes of the frozen animal carcasses are enough to survive.

Living beings of a once beautiful nature are not needed. By this the human utilitarian attitude towards everything that surrounds us is shown: True, neither plants nor animals have survived. But thanks ice nine pig and cow carcasses and small forest game were well preserved, broods of birds and berries were preserved, waiting for us to let them thaw and cook them (Vonnegut, 2010: 273).

War has brought people to this state, but the war is not in the heroic sense in which we are accustomed to perceive it, but the war of children, the real hostages of politics, the war of beetles locked in one glass container and forced to fight for the rights to something, although no one of them can be right. This is symptomatic of the Vonnegut style of the image of war - a comparison of warriors with children, small and controlled, is sure to appear. This takes place in the Cat's Cradle; it develops with greater force and visibility in Slaughterhouse Number Five, or the Crusade of Children.

Frank Honikker, as a boy, is not by chance called his peers Agent X-nine. This is due to the experiments of his father, Felix Honikker, to create a unique substance that has an unimaginably low melting point - ice-nine.

Interestingly, the author of the novel invents ice-nine to convey to people a rather simple idea: we have cooled to the suffering of each other; we do not value life anymore, imagining that we live on some island separated from all disasters by a high wall of indifference. The world will destroy the ice-nine, that is, people's indifference to each other. When the Americans bombed peaceful Japanese cities, they were infected with just such indifference to the destinies of so many people, to the destinies of more than one generation. Some developed a terrible weapon, others used, everyone was in the corner of an amateur, was engaged in his own business, and it seems no one is to blame, but the inner ice-nine is to blame.

Felix Honikker was not interested in the life of other people, even the life of literary models - the heroes of the works. As his son Newt recalls, his father could never be found behind a book. And in the evening of the actual dumping of nuclear bombs, the great scientist was sitting at home and playing with some kind of string, the weave of which he called the cat's cradle. Rope was interested in him as an object of the game and, probably, as a means to calm down, but he did not even look at the document, which was tied with this ribbon.

The document turned out to be the novel Hell 2000, which tells how scientists brought mankind to the point of no return with their inventions. Why does this novel about the creation of a monstrous bomb, erased everything from the face of the earth, the author sent to Dr. Honykker? He needed professional advice: Marvin Sharpe Holderness, who wrote the novel after the murder of his brother, asked Father Newt, Frank, about what substance to fill the bomb in the novel Hell 2000. Newt recalls later: of all that parcel post, only a string came in handy for him. He was always like that. It was impossible to guess what would interest him. On the day when the bomb was dropped, he was interested in the rope (Vonnegut, 2010: 14). The rope from which Dr. Honikker wove a cradle for the cat. The cradle for the cat, the cradle - an object of inanimate nature, the cat - a living creature, that is, the merciless mind wove the cradle for life - death.

Culture weaves for Nature a trap, a web, a cradle of a cat. Its creator, that is, man, directs the actions of culture, and the mind controls it in turn. Vonnegut, in his novel, does not bring out the problem of progress and its consequences, but questions the very possibility of social progress, returns to the questions the enlighteners pondered over, dividing into those who believe in the historical forward movement and do not recognize it.

Kurt Vonnegut writes an entire chapter, which he calls the Fourteenth Volume to answer the question about the possibility of social progress in one word and a full stop: Bockonons say such hopes for a bright future for humanity no. Taking into account all his experience and applying all the efforts of his mind, a person can never hope for a bright future, until, like Felix Hoenikker, he does not agree with the undeniable truth: God is love. The meaning of life is in love, not in protein and ice-nine.

Bokonon's doctrine teaches the people in Karasucs on some very nuclear principle, as if to say, if people make a joint Brownian motion of souls, they are destined to be together. In general, bokonism is very suitable for the inhabitants of the shark of the capital of the world - the inhabitants of the island of San Lorenzo, because their indifference to the tyrant, the head of state, can only be compared with indifference to God. Bokonon teaches us: Do not pay attention to Caesar. Caesar has no idea what in fact is going around (Vonnegut, 2010 102).

Vonnegut's apocalyptic novel Cat's Cradle shows how the end of the world can appear, if the human mind does not cease to commit acts of violence and terror over nature, over everything that was not created by him, over everything that is not subordinate to his plan. God was bored and lonely when he decided to create people, and they take revenge on him for the meaninglessness of his existence: I, a lump of clay, stood up and saw how wonderful God worked! <...> Now a lump of clay again falls and falls asleep (Vonnegut, 2010: 221).

Conclusions and perspectives of further exploration

The author of the study concludes that the prerequisite that provides a broad epic reproduction of the life process in the novels of K. Vonnegut is the successful use of the writer of such traditional artistic techniques for philosophical prose as the hypertrophy of historicity and the reproduction of timelessness.

As philosophical works, the novels of K. Vonnegut, by force of infuence on the reader, rise to the ontological level of numenous experience, which gives not only empathy or concoction, but also coping. An artist in a society, from the point of K. Vonnegut, must act as an evolutionary, specialized cell on the body of a social organism, to act as a means of introducing new ideas into society.

However, this lump of earth rises up against its creator, does not want to be a cell in the world table of substances and creatures conceived by God. The attitude to the story in the work, as well as the attitude in progress, is specific. Bokonon talks about the story: read and cry. And the residents of San Lorenzo, on the day of the hundred martyrs for democracy, launch all six planes of the air forces of their small country to sink the cardboard cartoons scattered across the sea on famous dictators: Each target was a caricature of a real person, and the name this man was written both back and front. I asked who drew cartoons and found out that their author is Dr. Vox. Humane, Christian Shepherd.(Vonnegut, 2010: 228) KurtrVonnegut managed to convey a sense of the destruction of the world, its falling asleep, freezing, the feeling that when a live cat and even a kitten already wove its cradle.

References

1. Joseph Dewey In a dark time: The apocalyptic temper in the American novel of the nuclear age Purdue University Press, 1990 P. 53-56.

2. Klinkowitz Jerome. The Vonnegut effect. University of South Carolina, 2004 P. 46-74

3. Klinkowitz Jerome. Vonnegut in America. N.Y.: Delacorte Press, 1977. 304 p.

4. Kurt Vonnegut. Cat's Craddle. Dial Press Paperback Edition. 2010.

5. Reed P. J. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. TomasY. Crowell Company, 1972. 222 p.

6. Vonnegut in America. An introduction to the life and work of Kurt Vonnegut. Original essays edited by J. Klinkowitz and Donald L. Lawler. Delacorte Press / Saymour Lawrence, 1977. 304 p.

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